You may be aware that an asbestos survey is necessary, but you may not know why it is necessary. The owner of a building, particularly if the building was erected prior to 2000, must have an asbestos survey conducted. This is necessary if there is any renovation work planned for the building in the future. A commercial building typically has many occupants, and an asbestos survey is the first step in ensuring that they are safe from the dangers of asbestos.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. It is composed of flexible fibres that offer resistance to heat, corrosion and electricity. This made asbestos an excellent substance to add to construction materials as it provided extra strength and durability to the building. It was added to cloth, cement, insulation and more.
However, as asbestos is friable, it means that when it is disturbed, it releases microscopic fibres into the air. These fibres cannot be seen by the naked eye. When they are inhaled by unsuspecting people in the vicinity, they can lodge in the lining of the lungs or lung tissue.
The asbestos fibres are hard, and they cannot be absorbed or expelled by the body. As a result, once they lodge in the lungs, they can tear and damage the lungs, often with disastrous results. The damage can cause asbestos-related diseases such as pleural thickening, asbestosis and mesothelioma. These are incurable.
It was believed that it was only people who worked with asbestos that were at risk of getting these diseases and cancers. Asbestos was widely used in the UK, and, as such, it is present in many buildings. As asbestos-containing materials are found in schools, public buildings, and many other commercial buildings, the occupant’s within them are also at risk from asbestos-related diseases.
What must be done?
In order to ensure that the occupants of your commercial building are safe, the first step is to arrange for an asbestos survey. An asbestos survey is essential for a commercial building.
A domestic building does not need an asbestos survey as a commercial building does. However, the HSE regulations do state that if the common areas of a domestic premises is due for renovations or other work, an asbestos survey must be carried out. The common areas include areas such as foyers, lift, stairs, communal out buildings and any other area here people living in the building can gather.
What does legislation say?
The control of asbestos regulations 2012 state that the duty holder is responsible for managing any asbestos in a non-domestic building. This means that the owner or the manager of the building is the duty holder. It also means that he has to take steps to ensure that any asbestos-containing material is properly managed.
What is asbestos management?
Managing asbestos includes taking steps to determine if there are any asbestos-containing materials in the building. It also includes the amount, as well as the condition. Managing asbestos also means that the duty holder must keep a record of said materials, their condition and the amount.
The duty holder is responsible for creating a management plan. The management plan will use the information that as gleaned in the asbestos survey.
Here, the duty holder will assess who is at risk from the asbestos-containing materials and how these risks will be managed. He will also regularly assess the plan and update it where and when necessary.
Types of asbestos surveys
There are generally 2 types of asbestos surveys. The management asbestos survey is the more popular survey. It serves to locate the presence and the extent of any suspected asbestos-containing materials in a building.
The 2nd asbestos survey is the refurb/demo survey. This is a more intrusive survey and is essential if any demolition or intensive construction work is planned for the building.
So, is an asbestos survey needed in the UK?
The answer to this question is yes. This is especially so if your building is an old building and was erected prior to 2000. If it is a domestic building such as a block of flats, an asbestos survey will be necessary for the common areas of the building.
It may be that you only need a management survey for your building. This type of survey is generally not intrusive. They serve to locate the presence as well as the extent of any suspected asbestos-containing materials in your building. These would include ACMs that could be disturbed or damaged during normal occupancy of the building, and to assess their condition. Normal occupancy of the building also means any foreseeable installation and maintenance works.
On the other hand, the refurb demolition survey is more intensive. It can involve destructive inspection if it is necessary so that the surveyors are able to reach all areas. This survey only notes the areas where the asbestos is damaged, and where additional asbestos debris can be found. The survey is mandatory before any building construction work or demolition works occur to the building.
An asbestos survey must be completed by a professional team. Professional surveyors have the experience, the knowledge and the qualifications to manage any type of asbestos survey.
Our expert team can assist you with the right asbestos survey for your building. In fact, we can assist you with any asbestos-related query you may have. We have years of experience, sound knowledge and the necessary skills to ensure a safe and thorough asbestos survey for your building.
An asbestos survey in the UK is necessary. Not only to ensure compliance with legislation, but most importantly, to ensure safety of the occupants.